It's no secret that words are powerful. They're a powerful tool to build up or tear down, to encourage or dissuade. In sales pitches, word choice can mean the difference between a closed deal and an ignored follow-up email.
But what words should you avoid in your sales pitch? And why? In this article, we'll share a list of 25 words you should avoid, plus how to rephrase them to close more deals.
We're not saying that you should lie to your prospects, but "honesty" is not a word that belongs in your sales pitch. The more you talk about your honesty, the less trustworthy you may seem to a prospect. Plus, when you use "honestly" in your presentation, you imply that everything you previously said wasn't truthful.
Try using alternatives like "From my experience..." or remove the qualifier altogether to make your point more direct and, thus, more trustworthy.
When discussing the contract, you're emphasizing the business transaction rather than the relationship. Words like these can make your prospect feel like they're just a number to you.
A better phrase would be "partnering with us" or "working together." And while "a contract" seems final, something like "an agreement" can emphasize the partnership piece of the deal.
"Buy" is probably the most important word to avoid. You never want to come across as pushy, so avoid words like "purchase," "acquire," or anything else that sounds like you're trying to get someone to part with their hard-earned cash.
Instead of "buy," try "invest in" to show the purchase's end value.
When you use words like "problem" or "issues," it sounds like you're trying to sell someone on fixing something that's broken. This doesn't inspire much confidence in your product. Instead, focus on the challenges they want to overcome and how you can help them.
For example, "What challenges are you looking to overcome?" or "How can we help you reach your goals?"
Call your leads "future clients" instead of "prospects."
When you use the word "hope," you're implying that you're uncertain about the outcome. So why should your prospect feel confident in you?
A better phrase would be "I'm confident that..." or "I look forward to..." to instill trust in your prospects and put their confidence in your judgment.
Using any negative when referring to your product or service is a no. If your product doesn't have the capability the prospect is asking for, try framing it as an opportunity.
For example, "Our product doesn't currently have that feature, but what we can do is..."
Some prospects may take this as a condescending word as if they're not smart enough to understand your message. Plus, if they start trying to figure out what was so obvious, you instantly lose some trust in the partnership.
Instead of this term, try using more open phrases like "To summarize," "What this means for you is..." or "Here's the takeaway..."
The word "quota" implies you're just trying to close the deal to hit your numbers and don't care about solving their challenge. Avoid using this term together.
Again, you need to be confident in your sales pitch, so using words like "maybe" doesn't help your cause.
Using words like "cheaper" when referring to your product or services compared to the competition, you risk devaluing what you're offering. And if you describe competition as "cheap" and low value, you're encouraging prospects to seek more affordable options.
Replace that word with "a better investment," or, if you're more expensive than the competition, use words like "premium," "deluxe," or "ultimate" while emphasizing the value add of your services.
12. Best Quality
When you use words like "the best," you open yourself up to scrutiny. Your competition may argue that they're the best, and then you're stuck in a he-said-she-said battle.
To avoid this, focus on what your product does that's unique or how it helped past customers achieve their goals. Try phrases like "We specialize in..." or "We're known for our..."
Just like "maybe," you don't want to sound wishy-washy in your sales pitch or next steps. You want to express confidence and like you have a plan.
If you find yourself using "perhaps," try words and phrases like "I recommend," "Let's plan for," or "The next step is..."
You're putting your reputation on the line when you offer a guarantee. So only use this term if you can 100% back it up, and even then, "warranty" is a strong word choice. If not, words like "assure" may be more believable to your prospects.
Discount is another one of those words that can make your prospect feel like a transaction. Plus, if you offer discounts too often, people will start to think that's the only way you do business. You want to avoid devaluing your product or service by offering a discount and instead focus on the value you provide. Try refraining from using "discount" altogether or only using it in special circumstances.
When you need to provide a discount, try reframing it as "a special rate," "a contract bonus," or "a limited-time offer."
This is a negative word that immediately puts your prospect on the defensive. You want to avoid being judgmental or making your prospects feel like they've done something wrong.
A better way to phrase this would be "challenge," "opportunity," or "goal."
Please don't be the first to bring up your competitors; position your product or service to show your buyer it meets their needs and will exceed their expectations. When competition does come up, emphasize how your product or service is different and unique.
When you talk about pricing, it sounds like all you care about is the money. You want to avoid being greedy or only interested in the sale.
A better phrase would be, "The investment for our product/service is X." This emphasizes that you're selling a solution, not just a product.
If you complain about a past client or experience, stop and reframe what you're saying. No one wants to do business with someone negative. You want to come across as positive and solution-oriented.
If a future client asks you about a negative review or experience, share what you learned from it and how you've changed your process.
When you hear "objection," it's easy to think of it as a roadblock to the sale. But objections are an opportunity to learn more about your prospect's needs and address any concerns they may have. But when you bring up "objections" the prospect may have had in previous engagements, use "areas of concern" to address the topic.
21. Sign or Signature
Rather than asking a client to "sign" a document, ask for their approval.
22. Decision Maker
"Are you the decision maker?" is not a question you want to ask your prospect. It puts them on the spot and can make them feel like they're being put under pressure or wasting their time if they have no voice in the solution brief.
A better way to phrase it would be, "Is there anyone else you need to involve in this decision?" or "Who else needs to be involved in this conversation?"
"Pitch" can come off as too pushy. Instead, refer to your meeting as a "solution recommendation" or "partnership strategy."
While recounting existing customer success is often essential to your pitch, you don't want your sales pitch to only be about them. Instead, focus on how your product or service can help the prospect achieve their goals. When you do bring up customers, refer to them as "our current partners," "people who enjoy our products," or simply — "our clients."
Not everyone is looking for advice. Sometimes, prospects want a consultant to understand the problem. Other times, they want a partner who can help them make the best decision for their business. Be careful not to position yourself as a know-it-all, or you'll turn people off.
When giving advice, frame it as a "recommendation" or a "perspective." You could even say, "If I were in your shoes, I would..." You can also say that you or another client "had a similar experience in the past."
Avoiding the above words in your pitch will make you sound more confident, authoritative, and like a true partner invested in helping the prospect achieve their goals.
And if you're ever in doubt about whether or not a word is too sales-y, try to put yourself in your prospect's shoes. Would you want to be spoken to in that way? If not, then it's probably best to avoid it.
Remember, your word choice plays a significant role in how your sales pitch is received, so choose wisely!
Sources: Inc.com, LinkedIn, Alen Mayer, Sales Coach AZ
Patrick Biddiscombe is the CEO of New Breed. He also spearheads our Revenue department and his background and skills in sales and inbound strategy has contributed immensely to the success of New Breed and our customers' growth.